Ritchie Bros. broadcast an online auction for the first time in 1999. Never one to shy away from the latest technology, with the rise in smartphones they saw the potential in bringing their mobile auctions to a whole new platform. My team was brought on board to tackle that task, and I was assigned as design lead for the bidding interface.
Their bidding interface was not a simple one. It had been custom designed to suit their exact needs, and had several strict requirements. Users could participate in multiple auctions and its various rings, read equipment specifications, look at pictures, and bid on multiple lots all from a single screen. Auctions are busy places, and the interface reflected that.
Obviously mobile does not have the same real estate as desktop. How was I going to find a place for all this crucial information and interaction in one screen? Well, you couldn’t. Instead, I chose to focus on the user’s context.
Since cramming all the features into one screen would be impossible, I needed to find a way to allow the user to go back and forth between the active bidding screen and the auction catalog. But the auction catalog was available whether or not an auction was active, so they couldn’t be too ingrained.
There needed to be a way to minimize the bidding interface while the auction was in session, while still getting status updates. The concept that came out of research and iteration was that of a overlay, similar to what you see in the Apple Music app.
Once expanded, the bidding screen uses a segmented control to keep context for all the crucial pieces of the auction. The fixed panel at the bottom allows the user to keep an eye on the current status—and their bid—wherever they are in the bidding overlay.
All the content that was in that desktop window has found its home in the app, balancing the user’s needs and the fluctuating context of an high-energy auction.